Horsham Club Knockout 2017-18: Forster – Mansson

Last Tuesday, I played against Mike Forster in the final of the knockout. The game was a draw, so we will have to arrange a replay. I obtained as good position as Black and was able to build up some pressure; however, Mike was able to wriggle out, with some assistance for me, and towards the end had quite a good position. None the less, the game was agreed drawn after the players started to repeat the position.

I give the game below with some notes.

Forster, Michael C – Mansson, James C, Horsham Club Knockout Final 2018.06.05

1. c4 e5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 h6!?

This is a cunning waiting move. Black believes that White has nothing better than 4 Nc3, when he will be able to play 4…Bb4. This would lead to a typical Rossolimo set up, where the move …h6 is generally useful.

4. Nc3 Bb4 5. Nd5 Nxd5 6. cxd5 O-O 7. e3 c6 8. Ne2 cxd5 9. Bxd5 Nc6 10. Qb3

This seems adequately met by Black’s reply, so just castling seems more straightforward. 10. O-O Ne7 is nevertheless fine for Black.

10… a5 11. O-O Ne7 12. Bg2 d5 13. a3 Bd6 14. f4?!

This looks too weakening.

Instead:

  • 14. Bxd5 Nxd5 (14… a4 first, then 15. Qa2 Nxd5 is also possible.) 15. Qxd5 looks very risky for White. 15… Bh3 16. Re1 Qf6 was what I was considering, when Black has definite compensation, although there are other ways to play it.
  • 14. d4?! doesn’t look that great, e.g. 14… a4 15. Qd1 e4
  • 14. Nc3 had to be tried, although Black looks fine there as well due to White being behind in development. 14… d4 seems the strongest reply, e.g. 15. exd4 exd4 16. Ne4 Bc7

14… a4 15. Qd1 Bg4

This is a reasonable more, although Black seems to have a stronger alternative.

15… e4 is obvious, although maybe White can play 16. d3 exd3 17. Nd4 which is not so clear.

15… d4! looks promising as White has no obvious reply:

  • 16. fxe5?! Bxe5 17. exd4 Bxd4+ 18. Nxd4 Qxd4+ followed by …Bg4 is
    naturally no good for White.
  • 16. exd4?! exd4 is obviously very good for Black.

16. h3?!

This allows Black to significantly weaken White’s position.

16. fxe5! Bxe5 17. d4 followed by Qd3 and Nc3 was not so clear.

16… Bxe2

16… Be6 was also worth considering.

17. Qxe2 exf4

17… Qb6 threatening …d4, was worth considering.

18. gxf4

18. exf4 Bc5+ 19. Kh2 Nf5 is naturally rather grim for White.

18… Bc7

Black could not see a way to make any of the forcing lines work, and so decided to gradually improve his position.

19. d3?

This just weakens White’s position. He needed to find something less drastic.

19… Nf5 20. Qg4 g6 21. e4 h5 22. Qg5

White decided to head for an endgame, but this is not great for him.

However, the alternatives are not appealing:

  • 22. Qd1? dxe4 23. dxe4 Ng3 24. Re1 Ba5
  • 22. Qf3 Nd4 23. Qd1 dxe4 24. dxe4 Nb3

22… Qxg5

22… dxe4! may be even stronger, e.g.

  • 23. dxe4?? Qd4+ 24. Kh1 Bd8
  • 23. Qxd8? Raxd8 24. dxe4 (24. Bxe4 Rfe8) 24… Ng3
  • 23. Bxe4 Re8 24. Bxf5 Qd4+ 25. Kh1 Ra5! 26. Qg1 Qxg1+ 27. Kxg1 Rxf5

23. fxg5 Ng3 24. Re1

Or 24. Rd1 Be5.

24… Ba5

Black should probably take on e4 to avoid a possible exchange sacrifice.

24… dxe4! and now:

  • 25. Bxe4 Ba5 26. Rd1 Nxe4 27. dxe4 Rfe8
  • 25. dxe4 Be5

25. Rd1

25. Bf4 giving up the exchange, was worth considering. 25…Bxe1 26. Rxe1 h4 27. exd5 Rfe8 probably favours Black but is not entirely clear.

25… dxe4

Or 25… Bb6+ 26. Kh2 Bc7 27. exd5 Rfe8.

26. dxe4 Rfe8?!

This allows White to start to unravel his position.

26… Rac8 intending …Rc2, keeps White tied up.

27. Be3 Rac8 28. Rd5 b6 29. Rad1 Nxe4?!

Grabbing a pawn is not a good idea as White now has definite compensation.

29… Rc2 keeps White under some pressure.

30. Bd4 Nc5 31. Bf1 Ne6 32. Bf6 Nc7?!

32… Rc5 kept things balanced.

33. Rd8

33. Rd7! favours White.

33… Rcxd8?!

33…Rexd8 is better as it is more useful to have a rook on c8 than e8.

34. Bxd8! Ne6

This illustrates why the other rook capture was better, as the rook on e8 is passive, while if the rook was on c8 it would be active.

35. Bf6 Nc7 36. Bd8

White decided not to risk it and goes for a repetition.

36. Rd7! again looks favourable for White.

36… Ne6 37. Bf6 Nc7 1/2-1/2

Black offered a draw, which White accepted.

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